The brownie makes her way from the book section, toward the front counter as Sven makes his way over to me. Her pace is sedate as if she doesn't have a care in the world.
Once Sven is close enough, I give him one nod before speaking. "She tells me these glasses see witch’s spells. At least that's what she thinks they do since she doesn't have a lot of experience with magic and she wants to sell them to the shop." I tap the glasses case when Sven is close enough to see it from around the tall display case on the edge of the counter.
As he stops and folds his arms, I watch his frown increase; he too is running through all the possibilities of what can go wrong with the glasses and his expression smooths out as he comes to the conclusion it makes sense for him to be standing there.
I wait until the brownie is across the counter again, the same pleasant smile on her face, before I open the glasses case. They look similar to glasses worn by the Beatles in the 1960s, nothing special, simply dated.
I pick them up gingerly, being careful to only touch the sides and not the actual lenses, using only my thumbs and forefingers. I then close my eyes as I set them onto my face.
When I open them again, my neck jolts back and I blink a few times. Sure enough, I can see sigils and symbols of spells varying in age. One set is the same green as healthy grass, the other, newer set is close to a teal. I know from my childhood it was my grandmother and mother's magic, respectively. I'd known they put all sorts of wards on the shop, and the buildings, to a lesser degree, in the shopping center. There'd been a time or two when I was a child, they would bespell me so I could see their magic at work. They knew I'd never be able to work the magic myself, but they wanted me to know what it looks like. I never understood the inclination until this very moment.
As I continue to scan the shop, my gaze hits the floor where the green goo, vomited up by the poisoned goblin, was. There is pale discoloration to the floor without the glasses. With them on the discoloration glows.
"Great, I have no idea how to get that out," I mumble to myself.
As I am about to take them off and make an offer, I scan up from where the green goo was and stop. There are three sets of pale gold handprints on the outside of the windows. I do a double take; once my brain registers what they are I look away. I don't want to draw attention to them. Since I don't know how they got there, I am not about to tell a stranger about them. If it was active magic Bailey would alert me, since one of her skills is to notice that kind of thing.
I close my eyes and remove the glasses. Taking my time to put them back in the case, I don't make eye contact with the brownie again until the top of the case snaps shut.
"How much are you hoping for them?" I open.
Her smile grows again, this time showing me that the extra sharp teeth go all the way back in her mouth. If I hadn't already known what brownies look like, it probably would've given me nightmares.
"So, they work," she asks.
"They do, and you appear to be right about them seeing witch’s magic."
Clapping, she bounces on the heels of her feet with excitement. "I knew it. How about one hundred and fifty dollars? I can put together a nice dinner for my kids and grandkids with one hundred and fifty dollars."
I want to take her up on it and I know a lot of less-reputable beings who deal in magical items, would. But Fix ‘n’ Find’s good reputation is partially due to our honesty; we don't believe in cheating people.
Glasses that see magic can be worth a pretty penny to those who can't see it. While one hundred and fifty dollars would give me a huge profit, I wouldn't feel right about it. If these glasses only showed one type of magic, one-fifty would've been fair. These differentiate between users as well as showing different types of magic. That is labor-intensive. Even if you enchant an object to see magic, there is usually a time limit or it can only see magic performed by the person who did the spell or someone whose magic is similar. Any more complicated and you really need more serious mojo.
"I can't give you that," I respond, holding my hands on the counter.
For the first time since she entered the shop the brownie’s smile falls. "Are you sure?"
"I'm positive. To make an honest deal, we’d have to do six times that."
The brownie’s mouth drops open to form an O and her eyes go wide. One of her hands flutters to her chest. "Oh my, oh my goodness, that is quite a lot of money, young man. Are you sure?" Head shaking as she speaks, her disbelief is plain on her face.
"I'm absolutely positive. The amount of work which goes into creating an enchanted item of this caliber is worth a lot more than one-fifty. You're more than welcome to take it to one of the lesser-known magic shops, where I am sure they will be thrilled to give you one-fifty for it. I'm telling you it's worth about ten times that from what I can see, even after only a few seconds. It's up to you." I push the case closer to her side of the counter in case she doesn't take me up on it.
She blinks at me for several seconds before letting out a musical laugh. "Oh my, this is drastically more than I expected. I had no idea they were worth so much. If you're sure, I’ll definitely take the nine hundred. It will leave you room to make money on your end." She steps forward and lifts her hand to shake mine across the counter.
I reach out and shake it, giving her my best business smile. I calmly write up all of the paperwork, fill out all of the proper forms, of which there are more than a mundane antique shop would have, as the transference of magical items has a lot of red tape. She pleasantly chats with me, only after she tries to engage Sven. It’s all polite and shallow. Fifteen minutes later, she is out the door with a huge smile on her face, ready to set about planning an in-state weekend trip for her entire family.
Sven continues to stand there, arms crossed until the brownie’s town car pulls out of the parking lot. He then steps over to the glasses case, snaps it open, and pulls them out, holding them delicately between his right thumb and forefinger as I had done earlier.
"These must have some major magic for you to have put a heavy price tag on them," he comments, not looking away from them and instead inspecting every inch before sliding them on.
He doesn't react as strongly as I probably did. Instead, Sven blinks several times as he scans the store.
"Look at the front door and the windows." I tilt my head toward the front of the store as I speak.
Sven stops his scan to do as I ask and frowns. He takes four quick steps which puts him even with the endcaps of the front three aisles and leans his neck forward, frowning again. He stares at where I'd seen the handprints for several moments before reaching up, removing the glasses, and walking back to return them to their case.
"I don't know that magic. I don't recognize it. It doesn't appear to be actual spell work; it’s just handprints. It can’t be from the goblin from last week as it's on the new pane of glass too." Sven’s frown deepens as he looks toward the door, almost as if he expects to see the handprints without the glasses. "It might be worth your while to bring in a witch to look at those."
I nod along with Sven’s words. "Especially considering Blake tells me there have been break-ins of shops owned by supernatural beings. Two of which have been in our complex.”
Sven slowly turns his head to look at me. "But not here." His tone is bland.
"But not here," I repeat.
"Yes, it would definitely be in your best interest to call a witch." Sven turns slowly and strides back to his office in the back of the shop. Strangely, I don't hear his office door close, letting me know something about those handprints makes him uncomfortable enough he wants his door open just in case. That, more than anything else worries me. If the near-unshakable Sven thinks there might be a problem, then what on Earth does that mean for me?
The goblin nods and grunts once before pivoting and getting two steps toward the door. He begins hacking and coughing.
I take a large step back, toward where Bailey lies against the wall.
The hacking becomes so severe even Bailey stands up and trots around the opening in the counter so she can stare at the goblin. She gives three quick barks which sets my adrenaline on fire.
"Sir, are you okay?" I ask cautiously but I know I can’t help him.
One of the many reasons I adopted Bailey is she can sense active magic. If someone does a spell in her vicinity, she knows about it. If she gives those three quick barks, it means whatever is being done to the goblin is magic and not allergies.
The goblin doubles over, hacking harder. Soon, a thick green foam spews from his mouth with the force of each cough.
"Dammit," I mutter as I grab the walkie-talkie from under the counter and click it on. "Sven, I really need you out here. Something's wrong with a customer."
The line crackles. "I don't want to be involved," answers Sven's absurdly deep brogue over the walkie-talkie.
"Sven, seriously," I hiss into the walkie-talkie.
There is a huff. "Fine."
"Sir, are you okay? I'm calling the paramedics. Our type of paramedics," I qualify so he knows I am not calling human EMTs. Because who-knows-what would hit the fan if that happens.
I throw down the walkie-talkie and wrench my cell phone out of my back pocket before hitting the supernatural hotline I have on speed dial in my phone.
"Supernatural helpline, what is your emergency?"
"This is Jas Bond at the Fix ‘n’ Find. I have a goblin here coughing so hard that instead of coughing up a lung, it's a foamy green liquid. I don't know enough about goblin anatomy to know how bad that is." I try to keep my voice calm, but unease and panic are setting in. And I hope whatever it is isn't contagious.
"Thank you for that information, sir. I am dispatching two emergency personnel now. They should be there within the next fifteen minutes. Is there anything else I can do for you?"
I hate calling the supernatural hotline; for whatever reason supernatural beings live so long the idea of emergencies doesn’t seem to register with them.
"Not unless you can help this guy through the phone," I respond frustratedly.
"All right then, have a good day," she answers chipperly before hanging up.
Disgusted, I put my phone down on the counter and begin rummaging through one of the top drawers behind the desk. I have a collection of health pendants somewhere in one of the drawers. My ex-fiancée gave me a handful of them before we broke up.
"Aha!" I exclaim as my hand clasps around one of the ruby red and gold pendants. I slam the door shut and run around the counter, catching myself before I trip over Bailey who decides to move between my legs mid-step.
"Take this." The man has now coughed up so much bubbling green foam it can fill the small trashcan I keep behind the counter.
The man seems too distracted to hear me, so I reach across the puddle and pry open his free hand, ignoring the scratch I get across my palm from his overly sharp nails and smash the pendant into his hand, re-curling his fingers around it. I watch as the amulet glows bright, getting brighter the longer he holds it.
"Well, this can't be good," Sven comments from where he now stands next to me.
I didn’t hear him coming from across the shop, so I jump when he speaks.
After several seconds, the goblin’s coughing slows and the liquid stops coming out of his mouth, for which I am extremely grateful for, because now that I am standing here, the smell is getting to me. It is something between wet dog and microwaved fish.
"Do you know what would do that?" I murmur to Sven.
Sven shakes his head as he strokes his long beard, making the two beads hanging in it clack when they hit each other. "No. But my knowledge of magic isn't great. At least not this type of magic."
We both stare at the goblin as his coughing slowly turns more toward wheezing. I look away from him long enough to glance at Bailey, still standing, peering around the counter. The expression on her face and the fact her hackles are still up concerns me. Normally once magic subsides, she goes back about her business. The fact she is still watching sets off warning bells in my head. Not to mention the smell is getting stronger and I have no idea what the best way to clean whatever it is up. I don’t even want to think about how long it is going to take to clear the smell from the shop.